The Pittsburgh Steelers have won more Super Bowls than any other team in the National Football league with six.
Ben Roethlisberger has won two of the six and has led the Steelers to three Super Bowl appearances. Despite two losses to their AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens, I see no reason outside of a major injury why the Steelers can't make another trip to the Super Bowl this season.
The Steelers and Ravens are both 10-3. Whichever team finishes second in the AFC North is still two games up in the wild card race. The Steelers should finish no worse than 12-4 with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns left on the schedule.
As we have all seen in the past, all the Steelers need is a spot in the playoffs. Whether they are the top seed or sixth seed in the AFC playoffs, they are capable of winning the Super Bowl. Winning is contagious, and the Steelers have been winning a lot of games.
Here are the main factors that have the Steelers poised to make yet another run to a Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is having a down year by his standards.
His rushing attempts, yards and touchdown numbers are down this season. Mendenhall rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as the starter. He has shared time and carries with Isaac Redman, who many fans seem to prefer over Mendenhall.
As big a fan of Mendenhall as I am, he didn't seem to be running very hard early in the season. The offensive line hasn't been blocking well, but it was as if Mendenhall was about ready for a change in scenery. He had one big game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5, which is his only game with over 100 yards rushing this season.
Then came Week 9, an extremely important game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Mendenhall only carried the ball 16 times for 44 yards, but he ran with a purpose. He scored twice, and I don't think anybody could have stopped him from scoring. He seemed to run with anger, lowering his shoulder and punishing defenders.
He has run this way ever since, scoring five touchdowns over the last five weeks. As you can see in the picture above, you aren't going to arm tackle this man! Despite often carrying the ball away from his body, Mendenhall only has one fumble.
Mendenhall has run for 710 yards on 187 carries and eight touchdowns this season.
The Steelers secondary has been a weakness for the past couple of seasons.
This season, the Steelers have allowed a league best 179.1 yards a game through the air. Defensive back William Gay has stepped up his play a great deal, and is becoming an asset rather than a liability. I have taken some heat sticking up for the guy, but he has continued to make huge plays when the game is on the line.
Ike Taylor is playing well also, frequently taking on the opponent's best wide receiver. While he isn't playing at the level of Derelle Revis or Champ Bailey, he is a legitimate top tier defensive back. He has poor hands, but his great coverage skills make up for that.
Ryan Clark has stepped up his game, and Troy Polamalu is still giving offensive coordinators nightmares. Polamalu finally got his first interception of the season last Thursday night, hopefully there are more to come. Either way, he makes quarterbacks second guess their decisions just by being on the field.
The Steelers lost to the Packers in large part because they couldn't defend the pass. If Aaron Rodgers and the Packers continue their run to the Super Bowl, the Steelers will be ready for them. One of the Steelers main weakness is now a strength.
Now if only the offensive line would follow suit!
The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiving corps is among the best in the National Football League.
Mike Wallace has already eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving and Antonio Brown is closing in. So far this season, the Steelers have a combined 278 receptions for 3,574 yards and 21 touchdowns. Mike Wallace has 62 of those receptions, totaling 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns.
Antonio Brown has been emerging as Ben Roethlisberger's go-to guy lately. Brown has 55 catches for 925 yards and two touchdowns. When there is a big third down, Ben is usually looking for Brown. He isn't quite as fast as Wallace but has even better hands and plenty of speed. He seems to have some of Hines Ward's toughness as well.
Heath Miller, Hines Ward, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, David Johnson and rookie tight end Weslye Saunders are all capable receivers as well.
With all of these weapons at his disposal, Roethlisberger is as dangerous as ever.
This Pittsburgh Steelers team has the perfect blend of youth and experience.
Most of the players on this roster have been to at least one Super Bowl, several have been to two or all three since Ben Roethlisberger's arrival.
Outside of the rookies, these guys know what it takes to get to the big dance. What's more, they tasted victory as well as defeat last season to the Green Bay Packers. This is a team hungry for redemption, especially Hines Ward.
This season could be very similar to 2005 when Ben Roethlisberger told Jerome Bettis he would get him to Detroit. Hines Ward is obviously on his way out, and Roethlisberger won't want to send him out on a bad note. With a team this talented, there is no reason he should have to.
The Steelers are right where they need to be, and are already being talked about after the Baltimore Ravens. This will allow them to play the underdog role to some extent, unless of course they come back and win the AFC North.
What else needs to be said?
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is tough as nails, can throw the ball a country mile and his teammates love him. He is Steelers football personified, a true throwback type of player. He is a more accurate and clutch version of Brett Favre, minus the invincibility!
As long as Ben Roethlisberger is able to walk, he will be out on the field. This is a guy who has played through numerous injuries including: having his nose nearly ripped off of his face, bouncing his face off of a car, several concussions, and busted fingers and knees.
He's as clutch as it gets and plays his best in games that matter the most. He's well on his way to throwing for over 4,000 yards in the regular season, and has thrown 21 touchdown passes. I don't care what anybody says, if I had to win one game I would pick Ben Roethlisberger every time.
He's already won two Super Bowls and been to three, and there is no reason he can't win a couple more before it's all said and done.